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January 2, 2013

"An oral Internet of fences"

barbedwirephone.jpg
BLDGBLOG: Fence Phone "Across much of the west," C.F. Eckhardt explains,
"...there was already a network of wire covering most of the country, in the form of barbed-wire fences. Some unknown genius discovered that if you hooked two Sears or Monkey Ward telephone sets to the top wire on a barbed-wire fence, you could talk between the telephones as easily as between two 'town' telephones connected by slick wire through an operator's switchboard."

Posted by gerardvanderleun at January 2, 2013 10:31 AM. This is an entry on the sideblog of American Digest: Check it out.

Your Say

I saw this in action in my childhood. Even in 1969, north of Havre Montana, Rusty Jones had an old Monkey Ward phone in the barn and the only other place it could call was the Monkey Ward phone into the kitchen.
She was a lady for whom it was forever 19 aught.

Posted by: Jewel at January 2, 2013 11:35 AM

This was also a well-used means of communication between espionage agents (and probably still is). The Soviet GRU, military intelligence, custom made sets just for this purpose. I imagine we and the Brits did, too - heck, just about any spy agency in the world.

We also did the same thing with lakes using custom made fishing poles. The control agent goes to one side of the lake, drops the bob in the water and the espionage agents does the same on the other side of the lake, both at a prearranged time, of course. They could be literally miles apart and the signal would get through fine.

Both methods worked very well for sending or receiving precompiled messages, taking only a few seconds. But it was possible for the sender and receiver to converse, too, if they had to. But they didn't like to do that.

Posted by: Donald Sensing at January 2, 2013 12:22 PM

I'd like to see a two-station schematic. Any links?

Posted by: ed at January 2, 2013 4:13 PM